Tag Archives: Ups

Vacationland: Rural Maine Chronicled in the Photography of Steven Rubin

Twenty-five years old with a single camera body and lens in hand, Steven Rubin hitched a ride in 1982 to rural Somerset County in northwestern Maine and embarked on a project that would continue for more than 30 years.

Now a selection of the images Rubin captured during his decades-long project in this little-visited region of the U.S. will soon get a rare showing in Los Angeles. “Vacationland” goes up at the drkrm gallery from April 28 through May 26.

A graduate from Reed College with a degree in sociology, Rubin had originally come out to the East Coast from Oregon to enroll at the then Maine Photographic Workshops (now the Maine Media Workshops) in Rockport. After documenting the effects of the early 1980s recession on families nearby, he wanted to see how the economic downturn was being handled by locals far from the highways, historic lighthouses and second homes of the Maine coast. On a tip from a friend, Rubin headed inland and settled upon an abandoned shack as his home base and a schedule of hitching four to eight hours between the countryside to take pictures and Rockport to develop them.

Taking prints back to his subjects as a thank-you for their time and trust, Rubin was eventually let into the lives of local families—as well as some of their homes to crash on floors and couches—as he continued his work throughout Central Maine.

What he has witnessed is a part of the country largely unbuffeted by the usual economic ups and downs seen elsewhere. For many in the area times are always tough. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, per capita income has been increasing in Somerset County but has ranked at or near the bottom among Maine’s 16 counties throughout the many years of Rubin’s project. Residents get by through resourcefully cobbling together seasonal and part-time jobs, hunting, fix-it know-how and the support of their communities.

“When I met some of these families, I was completely in awe of them in many ways,” said Rubin, now an assistant professor of art in the Photography Program at Penn State University. “I think as an outsider and someone who didn’t have the background that they did, I was really quite taken by how they survived, by their strength, by their resourcefulness.”

Rubin sought to avoid the stereotypes of people broken by their struggles or heroically pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Influenced not only by legendary photographer Dorothea Lange but also anthropologist Clifford Geertz, Rubin aimed at creating a body of work that functioned as a “thick description,” a finely detailed document for understanding the context of human actions. Achieving that goal required time.

Since 1982, Rubin has returned to this project 10 times to capture daily rhythms and rituals and how the people he’d come to know changed, grew up, forged intense family bonds and frequently returned home despite finding good jobs elsewhere.

“I think so many of us—who move around different parts of the country, different parts of the world—we spend a lot of our lives looking for that sense of community. And these people have it,” Rubin said.

He’s planning to return again this summer to Maine, this time possibly shooting digitally rather than on his trusty Kodak Tri-X.

Steven Rubin’s photography has appeared in magazines including National Geographic, The New York Times, Stern and TIME. The series is on display at drkrm in Los Angeles, April 28 – May 26.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Upstairs from El Incidente at Casa O’Higgins is another fantastic exhibit of photos by Daniel Pajuelo. It’s titled “La calle es el cielo,” which I’ll translate as “Heaven on the Streets.” Pajuelo was a photojournalist in Lima in the 80s and 90s and his gritty black & white photos capture a time when the city was suffering from multiple crisis of hyperinflation, terrorism, political instability, and runaway urban growth.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

There’s a large hall with blow-ups of his photos hanging on wires.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Then there are several other rooms each with a couple of dozen prints.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

My picture of the picture isn’t good but the prints in the show are fanstastic. They’re really high quality ink jets which look to have been done specifically for this show. As Pajuelo, I’m guessing, was out on the streets hunting for photos, rather than stuck in the darkroom perfecting his printing technique. I’ve been to a lot of shows where print quality is skimped on (paper, ink, glass, frames are expensive!). It’s really great to see that they went all out for this show. It’s a great way to honor the photographer and really brings his work to life.

A display case shows some of Pajuelo’s personal effects:

Pajuelo’s personal items

Let’s see: press passes, leather jacket, Rollei 35… is there much more one needs in life?

Pajuelo passed away in 2000 at the young age of 37. A final room in the show display photos from his nights out on Lima’s rock scene. A text in the room notes, “A rock photographer is not the same thing as a photographer who rocks…”

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

El Incidente – 1940s Street Photography in Lima

Another fascinating exhibit right now as part of Lima’s Photography Biennial is a show called El Incidente. In it, the curator shows snapshots taken in Lima from the 1940s to the 1960s by street photographers working for local photo studios.

El Incidente

The game/business worked as follows; a guy working for some photo studio would snap a photo, typically without permission, and then ask the person if they would like to pay for a copy. If the answer was yes, someone from the studio, or the photographer himself would go the next day to the person’s house and deliver the photo.

As a type of vernacular photography I find it fascinating that something like this ever existed. It could only exist in a city that was big enough to be anonymous but not so large as to be dangerous and chaotic, as Lima was soon to become. The photos themselves are don’t break ground aesthetically. There were no Winogrands or Friedlanders lurking in Lima in the 1950s (at least not in this show). Still, the photos offer a fascinating glimpse of  a society and city in transtion.

El Incidente at Casa O’Higgins

El Incidente at Casa O’Higgins

The mounting of the show is fantastic. It’s housed on the ground floor of the gorgeous, restored 19th Century home of Chilean independence leader Bernardo O’Higgins.

El Incidente in Casa O’Higgins

The front room has large blow-ups of some of the photos next to small displays of the original photos themselves. In the back is a giant table with hundreds of photos on display under glass.

El Incidente at Casa O’Higgins

The curator, Daniel Contreras, collected these photo albums himself at various flea markets over the last several years. It wasn’t clear to me if these photos came from the customers or if the photographers themselves kept their own albums. In any event, the show does a masterful job of bringing this genre to life. A display case at the entrance shows a jumble of decaying albums from which some of the photos in the exhibit came.

El Incidente at Casa O’Higgins

As a type or genre of photography, this is totally new to me and fascinating too. I wonder if other cities in other or in other time periods something like this has existed.

My two favorite shows of the biennial so far, this one and Memorias Visuales, both deal with different expressions of vernacular photography in Peru. Both in their own way, as exhibits, do fantastic jobs of bringing to life an era as well as a genre of photography.

One World Portfolio Review

If you live in the San Francisco area, or want to plan a trip there in March, the Photo Alliance are offering a Portfolio Review.


Our World Portfolio Review
A fantastic opportunity to show your photographs to
professionals who publish, exhibit, write and teach.
Get new ideas, make connections, and find opportunities to distribute, publish and exhibit your work.

Must be RECEIVED by 5pm.

Please do send us an email letting us know you are applying however, so we can anticipate receiving your application. [email protected]

Our Mailing address:

PO Box 29010
San Francisco, California

If you are using Federal Express or UPS and need a STREET ADDRESS use this:

616 Key Boulevard
Richmond, California

Entry Procedure and Requirements:

• Work:
All two-dimensional works, using any photographic process including digital and/or analog, are eligible for review.

• Registration:
Registration is a TWO-STEP process.
1- An initial review of portfolios submitted by CD with $40.00 non-refundable entry fee.
2- Sixty portfolios will be selected from these submissions for the weekend review. An additional $575.00 payment is then required for final participation if selected.

• Calendar:
Feb. 10th – CD Entry due
Feb 20th – photographers notified
March 9-11 – Portfolio Review in San Francisco

• Entry: JPEG images on CD only for application process.
Must be received by February 10th, 2012.

See entry checklist on Entry Form.

Send all information to:
PhotoAlliance / Our World Portfolio Review
PO Box 29010
San Francisco, California 94129.

CD’s will be returned only if a self-addressed stamped
envelope of appropriate size and with appropriate postage is submitted with entry.

• Entry Fee and Procedure: A non-refundable entry fee of $40.00
for each 20 images.

• Digital Submission Requirements: Files should
be on a CD in JPEG format. Image size should be no larger than 2Mb or:
Horizontal – 8 inches
Vertical – 8 inches
Resolution 150 pixels/inch.
Files named as follows: Lastname_Firstname_imagenumber.jpg

Optional: submit an accompanying sheet with a list of name, title, date, medium, and dimension of each piece.

• Selection: A panel of jurors will be pre-screening all of the
entries. 60 photographers will be selected for the weekend
portfolio review. An additional fee of $575.00 is then required.

This will be the 6th annual event.

Partial list of reviewers- more to be added soon!

David Bayles, Artist, Educator, Author
Debra Bloomfield, Photographer & Educator
Linda Connor, Photographer & Educator, San Francisco Art Institute
Luis Delgado, Photographer, San Francisco
Janet Delaney, Photographer & Educator, San Francisco
Robert Dawson, Photographer & Educator, Stanford & San Jose State University
Taj Forer, Founding Editor, Daylight Magazine
Bruce Haley, Photographer, Carmel, Ca
Rebecca Horne, Photo Editor, The Wall Street Journal
Jason Houston, Picture Editor, Orion Magazine
Michael Itkoff, Founding Editor, Daylight Magazine
Ann M. Jastrab, Gallery Director RayKo Photo Center
Whitney Johnson, Picture Editor, The New Yorker
Anne Kelly, Associate Gallery Director, PhotoEye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Dennis Kiel, Chief Curator, The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, Charlotte, NC
Stefan Kirkeby, Owner, Smith Anderson North Gallery
Aimee Le Duc, Gallery Manager, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
Christopher McCall, Director, Pilara Foundation, Pier 24, San Francisco
Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, Curator of Drawings, Prints, and Photographs, The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Ted Orland, Artist, Educator, Author
Darcy Padilla, Photographer & Educator, San Francisco Art Institute
Kirsten Rian, Independent curator, writer, artist, Portland, OR
Thom Sempere, Director, PhotoAlliance
Rebecca Senf , Assistant Curator of Photography, The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
Meg Shiffler, Director, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
Ada Takahashi, Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco
Anne Veh, Art Consultant & Independent Curator
Lewis Watts, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
Deborah Willis, photographer, curator, and educator, Chair, Department of Photography & Imaging,
Tisch School of the Arts, NY

Support the Arts at the Aperture Curated Kickstarter Page

Radiant Labs raised 135% of their original goal in 30 days.

When Kickstarter launched in 2008, it more or less revolutionized the way people went about funding their creative or artistic endeavors. It also popularized a new investment sector long-embraced by non-profits that some experts say has the potential to boost our sluggish economy. By making it incredibly accessible for anyone with an idea to reach out to the world for funding or self-publishing (instead of looking for the ‘right’ institution or donor for a grant). Kickstarter also helped unleash a flood of potential investments and start-ups–some worthier than others.

This is why we at Aperture have started our own Curated Kickstarter page, where we showcase the most promising and exciting projects we find to bring creative people and like-minded investors together. As one Kickstarter user told David Pogue of the Times, “Kickstarter is to Amazon as Craigslist is to eBay,” Michael Critz wrote in an email, “It’s a community.”

So far, four of the projects we’ve selected have been successfully funded.

Emily Schiffer’s “See Potential” will install mural-sized documentary photographs in the South Side of Chicago amid urban decay to bring to light the lack of affordable, healthy foods in the neighborhood and “use public art as a platform to transform urban blight into community engagement.”

Radiant Labs in New York earned nearly $3000 over their projected to goal to get their Long Island City photo lab “up and running and keep analog color and black & white darkroom practices accessible to the community.”

Booklyn, a decade-old organization that provides resources for and unites artists looking to create unique and limited edition books and works on paper, raised over $14,000 to turn their “digital database into a functional, friendly, searchable website.”

Photographer Cara Phillips raised $17,000 to publish her first monograph, Singular Beauty, “a photographic exploration of the world of cosmetic surgery.”

Two other projects await the same:

There’s just over a day left to support Anton Orlov’s Photo Palace Bus, a one-time yellow school bus turned mobile studio and darkroom traveling cross-country in support of analog photography.

And the makers of Hot Spots, a new documentary on Magnum photographer Martin Parr, his creative process and biting humor, following him as he travels through the South for a rare museum commission, are looking to reach their $23,000 goal by February 29.


Foto/Gráfica: A New History of the Latin-American Photobook



A complex, multifaceted, historical and educational presentation of the history of the Latin-American photobook is currently on display at Le Bal in Paris. It is a lot to absorb in a single visit, but definitely worth the effort.

All of the following text and images were supplied by Le Bal:

“Photography,” wrote August Sander, “is like a mosaic: it only achieves a synthesis when you can display it all at once.”

In order to arrive at such a synthesis, [pre-digital] photographers have two forms at their disposal: the exhibition or the book, two continuous sequences of images structured into a comprehensive argument. FOTO/GRFICA thus constitutes an original approach insofar as it combines these two forms: an exhibition of photobooks as autonomous objects, accompanied by vintage prints, films and mock-ups.

This effort entailed more than three years of interviewing photographers, graphic designers, collectors, researchers and publishers on both sides of the Atlantic and combing rare bookstores and public and private libraries. Tracking down the unknown on a continental scale transformed this investigation into a vertiginously exciting quest which had as its outcome an anthology of 150 books published between 1921 and 2009: The Latin American Photo Book.

The books which came to light are incisive, complex, unsettling and often forgotten, star-crossed or otherwise secret works. The exhibition FOTO/GRFICA presents forty of them, most of which are unknown to the public, and thus serves to reveal Latin Americas remarkable contribution to the world history of the photobook.

The idea of seeking and presenting the best photobooks of Latin America was born during the 2007 Latin American forum on photography in So Paulo. On this occasion we observed the critical lack of a cartography of the books published in the 20th century on the continent. A rigorous investigation was lead to offset this silence by a systematic rescue of unquestionably valuable works. The research focused exclusively on photobooks published in Latin America by Latin American authors involved in carrying out their work. During three years, through 19 countries from Cuba to Patagonia, we interviewed photographers, graphic artists, collectors, scholars, publishers, and sifted through their libraries and archives. Chasing the unknown on the scale of a continent has converted this investigation into a quest both breathtaking and electrifying. The result is surprising. proveedor factura electrnica . Powerful, complex, troubling, often forgotten, cursed or secret books have emerged. Fotografia . Throughout the pages, unfolds something that is part caress, complaint, appeal, complicity, bitter denunciation (Julio Cortazar). Finally, this critical study reveals the remarkable contribution of Latin America in world history of the photobook.

Horacio Fernndez, curator


The exhibition begins with two major works echoing pre-Columbian America: one shows the landscape and its first inhabitants, the other, the cultures destroyed by colonisation.

In Amaznia (1978), by Brazilian photographers Claudia Andujar (Neuchtel, Switzerland, 1931- ) and George Love (Charlotte, North Carolina, 1937-So Paulo, Brazil, 1995), the primeval America, Paradise lost and its inhabitants, the masters of the Earth are evoked through a dramatic, film-like narrative charged with emotion.

Alturas de Macchu Picchu (Heights of Machu Picchu, 1954) brings together one of the major poems of Nobel Prize laureate Pablo Neruda and the photographs of the great master Martn Chambi (Coaza, Peru, 1891-Cuzco, Peru, 1973). These archaeological photographs are devoid of any human presence, unlike Nerudas verses, populated by Juan Stonecutter, son of Wiracocha and other inhabitants of the vast Inca city lost for centuries before its rediscovery in 1911.

Photobooks of protest and propaganda trace a visual history of Latin America in the twentieth century which is fraught with implacable tensions between conservative and reformist ideologies. This history begins with the period of the great Mexican Revolution of the 1910s as related in the lbum histrico grfico (Graphic history album, 1921) of Agustn Vctor Casasola (Mexico City, 1874-1938).

The political, ideological version of history is propaganda. It found expression in Argentina during the government of General Juan Domingo Pern in anonymous collective works such as Argentina en marcha (Argentina on the march, 1950) and Eva Pern (1952). The same was true in Bolivia during the 1950s, when the government commissioned a heroic narrative on the miners, El precio del estao (The price of tin, 1955) from Argentine photographer Gustavo Thorlichen (Hamburg, Germany, 1905-Mlaga, Spain, 1986). In a more documentary vein, Candombl (1957) by Jos Medeiros (Teresina, Brazil, 1921 LAquila, Italy, 1990) captures the secret, forbidden rituals of Afro-Brazilian culture.

The triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 mobilised an entire generation of outstanding photographers and graphic designers. The books of the early years embody faith in the future and rejection of the past, as seen in Cuba: Z.D.A. (Cuba Agrarian Development Zone, 1960), Sartre visita a Cuba (Sartre visits Cuba, 1960) and El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba (Socialism and man in Cuba, 1965). This revolutionary hope for change spread throughout Latin America, as demonstrated by photobooks such as Amrica, un viaje a travs de la injusticia (America, a journey through injustice, 1970), a synthesis of observation, emotion and culture on a continental scale by Enrique Bostelmann (Guadalajara, Mexico, 1939-Mexico City, 2003).

The victory of reactionary forces in the 1970s set off a spiral of violence. In Chile, the 1973 military coup led by General Pinochet sought to justify itself with Chile ayer hoy (Chile yesterday today, 1975), an archetypal example of right-wing propaganda which was countered by works such as Chile o muerte (Chile or death, 1974), a collage of documents, photographs and caricatures. Uchuraccay: Testimonio de una masacre (Uchuraccay: Testimony of a massacre, 1983) attests to the terrible war between Peru and the Shining Path terrorist guerrilla mouvement, whilst the recent Los que se quedan /Those that are still here (2007) by Geovanny Verdezoto (Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Ecuador, 1984- ) examines the situation of those who choose to remain rather than emigrate.


Buenos Aires, by Horacio Coppola (1936).

Latin Americas cities have inspired major photobooks. Doorway to Brasilia (1959), a work by graphic designer Alosio Magalhes (Recife, Brazil, 1927-Padua, Italy, 1982) and North American artist and printer Eugene Feldman, extols the architectural transformation of the landscape by means of an extraordinary demonstration of graphic ingenuity. More reserved, but just as monumental, Buenos Aires (1936) embodies the photographic vision of Horacio Coppola (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1906- ), in an empty urban stage. By contrast, La Ciudad de Mexico III (Mexico City III) by Nacho Lpez (Tampico, Mexico, 1923-Mexico City, 1983) celebrates the street life uniting architecture and city-dwellers.

In Buenos Aires Buenos Aires (1958) by Sara Facio (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1932- ) and Alicia DAmico (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1933-2001), the only decoration is the crowd, the hustle and bustle of ordinary people. Similarly privileging the public over the setting, Avndaro (1971) by Graciela Iturbide (Mexico City, 1942- ) recreates the energy of Mexicos first rock festival through the reframing and repetition of the images. Both of these books are distinguished by their graphic design, the work of Oscar Cesar Mara and Antonio Serna, respectively. Color natural (Natural colour, 1969) by Venezuelan photographer Graziano Gasparini (Gorizia, Italy, 1924- ), meanwhile, celebrates the gleaming, artificial colour of the city of Maracaibo.


Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, by Sara Facio (1958).


Sistema Nervioso, by Barbara Brndli (1975).


Sistema Nervioso, by Barbara Brndli (1975).


Sistema Nervioso, by Barbara Brndli (1975).

A certain number of Latin American photobooks stand out for the complexity of their narratives and the uniqueness of their form.

El rectngulo en la mano (The rectangle in the hand, 1963), for example, is a moving little artists book with a marvellous form, a fragile masterpiece by the mythical photographer Sergio Larrain (Santiago, Chile, 1931- ).

In Sistema nervioso (Nervous system, 1975), Venezuelan photographer Barbara Brndli (Schaffhausen, Switzerland, 1932- ), graphic designer John Lange and writer Romn Chalbaud present the city of Caracas like a puzzle composed of enigmatic signs reflecting the chaos, the improvisation, the humour, the grotesqueness . . .

In Fotografas (Photographs, 1983), photographer Fernell Franco (Versalles, Colombia, 1942-Cali, Colombia, 2006) sheds light on endless mysteries: I liked to photograph the way the shadows gradually disappeared into total darkness and the light died. Dissatisfied with the quality of the printing, Franco decided to destroy his book, and only a few copies are to be found today.

El cubano se ofrece (These are the Cubans, 1986), an essay by Ivn Caas (Havana, Cuba, 1946- ) on life in a Cuban village, shows the other side of official propaganda stereotypes. Retromundo (Retroworld, 1986), by Venezuelan photographer Paolo Gasparini (Gorizia, Italy, 1934- ) in close collaboration with graphic designer lvaro Sotillo, contrasts two ways of looking: that of Europe and North America, which proliferates in a flood of chaotic images, and that of the New World, which goes beyond appearances to privilege direct contact with beings and things.

The more theatrical photographs of Brazilian artist Miguel Rio Branco (Las Palmas, Spain, 1946- ) refer explicitly to film and painting and, with the blood-red bestiary Nakta (1996), undertake a journey of pain, of the material nature of suffering.


Auto-photos by Gretta (1978).

During the 1960s, many artists considered the process of creation more important than its outcome, the final work. Photographs were thus a means of documenting creative acts which left no other trace. Among Latin American artists books stemming from this movement, we find records of performances like Auto-photos (Self-photos, 1978) by the Brazilian artist Gretta (Athens, Greece, 1947- ) or works on the body like Autocopias (Self-copies, 1975) by Venezuelan artist Claudio Perna (Milan, Italy, 1938-Holgun, Cuba, 1997), designed by lvaro Sotillo.

There were also growing numbers of experimental works on the urban space, such as Sin saber que existas y sin poderte explicar (Without knowing you existed and without being able to explain, 1975) by Eduardo Terrazas (Guadalajara, Mexico, 1936- ) and Arnaldo Coen (Mexico City, 1940- ), which is at once an inventory of merchandise, a chromatic adventure and a celebration of graphic design.

The questioning of artistic language is at the heart of such outstanding books as Fallo fotogrfico (Photographic verdict, 1981), a conceptual work by Eugenio Dittborn (Santiago, Chile, 1943- ), or Ediciones econmicas de fotografa chilena (Affordable editions of Chilean photography, 1983), a short lived project for photocopied books which gave rise to works by photographers Paz Errzuriz (Santiago, Chile, 1944- ), Mauricio Valenzuela (Santiago, Chile, 1951- ) and Luis Weinstein (Santiago, Chile, 1957-).

Literature plays a central role in Latin American culture, which is often described as being more literate than visual. Photobooks combining texts and images are noteworthy for their numbers and quality alike. When poetry reaches out to photography, the result goes beyond the impact of the words alone and the photographs read like a text, far from any attempt at illustration.

In Venezuela during the 1960s, the collective El Techo de la Ballena (The roof of the whale) devoted itself to terrorism in the arts. One of the results of their activity is Asfalto-Infierno (Asphalt-Inferno, 1963), by writer Adriano Gonzlez Len and artist Daniel Gonzlez (San Juan de los Morros, Venezuela, 1934- ), which shows the full extent of the collective hell recorded on the pavements of Caracas.

Through the graphic design and photographs of Wesley Duke Lee (So Paulo, Brazil, 1931-2010), the poems of Robert Pivas Parania (Paranoia, 1963) constitute a hallucinatory vision of So Paulo.

With Versos de saln (Salon verses, 1970), Chilean poet Nicanor Parra invites readers on a roller-coaster ride which designer Fernn Meza joyously interprets through the flip-book style appearance, carving up, resurrection and final.

Photobook publishing has met with great success in Latin America these past years. More than ever, as Brazilian artist Rosngela Renn puts it, the idea is “to use the book as an ‘exhibition space,’ with its own graphic characteristics.”

Urban photography has enjoyed a revival with Siesta argentina (Argentine siesta, 2003) by Facundo de Zuvira (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1954- ) and Noturno So Paulo (So Paulo nocturnes, 2002) by Cssio Vasconcellos (So Paulo, Brazil, 1965- ).

Among noteworthy artists photobooks are the performance anthology created by Carlos Amorales (Mexico City, 1970- ), entitled los Amorales (The immoral ones [which is also a play on the artists name], 2000), and the surprising family album Miguel Caldern (2007) by the artist of the same name (Mexico City, 1971- ).

The archive is also a veritable genre in the visual arts of this new century, with such ambitious works as O arquivo universal (The universal archive, 2003) by Rosngela Renn (Bela Horizonte, Brazil, 1962- ) and the compilation of photographs showing strollers from another time in Archivo porcontacto (Archive by contact, 2009) by Oscar Muoz (Popayn, Colombia, 1951- ).

Last of all, several books demonstrate the renewed interest in documentary photography, such as On the Sixth Day (2005) by Argentine photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti (New York, US, 1968- ).

Foto/Grfica: A New History of the Latin-American Photobook
Curator: Horatio Fernandez
January 20 – April 8, 2012
Le Bal
6, Impasse de la Dfense
75018 Paris

Brownsville: Inside One of Brooklyn’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

Brownsville, located in east Brooklyn, has long been one of New York City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. But even as crime rates reached record lows in the borough in 2009, violence has continued to increase in Brownsville, which has remained untouched by the gentrification seen in so many other parts of Brooklyn. Inspired by the rapid changes in his own neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Reed Young began researching places that hadn’t seen such gentrification over the last few decades. “I always tried to kind of stay away from New York stories just because I think it’s so easy to do a personal story in New York if you live here,” the Brooklyn-based photographer says. “But once I started doing research, I found out that Brownsville has similar crime rates to a place like East New York, but is almost a third of its size. Brownsville is one square mile of public housing, basically.”

In May 2011, Young and a friend, who does social work, spent two weeks photographing various community members in Brownsville, from gang members to a UPS driver who has to deliver packages with a police officer because he was held up at gunpoint. But before beginning to shoot, Young and his friend first met with Greg Jackson, who runs a recreation center in the neighborhood, after reading an article about him in the New York Times. “We asked if it was cool to just walk around and kind of talk to people to get a feeling of the neighborhood,” Young says. “And he said, ‘Hell no. You’ve got to be kidding.” In the same breath, Jackson called a Brownsville resident named Randy, who eventually led Young and his friend around the neighborhood for the project.

Though some people tried to rough up Young and his friend over the two weeks, the photo shoots were, for the most part, hassle-free. The most intense moment from the project took place when Young photographed a gang member and his mother in their doorway. “That was the most tension I’ve ever felt doing a photo shoot,” Young says. “Because he was head of the gang, all of his people were around, and it was on this block that’s really, really, really tough.”

Young walked away from the project seeing Brownsville divided between the good and the bad, with little in the middle. “There’s a saying in Brownsville that says if you’re 25, you’re either dead, or in jail or you’re done with the gang life,” he says. “You’re one of the three because you can’t be much older and be out of that category.” The photographer hasn’t returned to Brownsville since shooting the series, though he hopes to in the future. “I want to go and do a follow up and even talk to a lot of the same people,” he says. “But I wonder if it’s too early yet. Change happens really slowly there.”

Reed Young is a Brooklyn-based photographer. See more of his work here

Feifei Sun is an associate editor at TIME. Follow her on Twitter at @feifei_sun.

Hotshoe Blog supports second Colombo Art Biennale 2012

Just a quick post to point readers, and those who land on the site intentionally or unintentionally, to the Colombo Art Biennale 2012 taking place next month from 15-19 February inclusive. Hotshoe Blog doesn’t carry advertising usually but is happy to support artistic and photographic endeavours worldwide, such as festivals and event, particularly those that are new or have only recently been established.

Plus, The Roaming Eye has fallen in love with Sri Lanka; its people, the diversity of the landscape, the warmth and the organised chaos. And, despite the huge challenges facing many people in aspects of economic, social and political life – people still smile. Smile, because you can and it’s free.

So, do spread the word about the second biennale and set it as a date in your calender. The Roaming Eye will be chatting with one of the directors Annoushka Hempel this week and will be visiting the festival for two days in February. Back to some photo news round ups for the next post.

Filed under: Art Fairs & Biennales, Photographers Tagged: Annoushka Hempel, art festival, Becoming Colombo, Colombo Art Biennial, contemporary photography, Sri Lanka